The National Security Agency, operated by the military, has targeted the private, peaceful, legal communications of everyday Americans through multiple electronic surveillance networks. Spying on civilian Americans has become a normal military activity – but how far this spying actually goes is known by few people. Even most members of Congress were kept in the dark by the NSA.
Now, one member of Congress is finally daring to directly ask the NSA how far the enormous military spying network penetrated the political offices of Capitol Hill. On Friday, Senator Bernard Sanders sent the following letter to General Keith Alexander, the Director of the National Security Agency:
“Dear General Alexander,
I am deeply concerned about recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies are collecting enormous amounts of information about phone calls that Americans make, emails that we send, and websites that we visit. In my view, these actions are clearly unconstitutional. As U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon wrote recently, the NSA programs are “almost Orwellian”.
Equally disturbing was to learn that the NSA has been involved in listening in on the phone calls made by government leaders of countries such as Brazil, Germany, France, Mexico and other U.S. allies. This particular revelation has caused serious foreign policy setbacks for the United States, weakened our ability to work cooperatively with our allies, and caused an increase in anti-American sentiment throughout the world.
Indeed, we must be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks. I believe, however, that we can do that effectively without undermining the constitutional rights that make us a free country.
I am writing today to ask you one very simple question. Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials? “Spying” would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this very important matter. I look forward to working with you on this issue in the near future.”
No other politician in Congress has confronted the NSA in the straightforward manner of Bernie Sanders. Most other members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, have cooperated in the radical extension of NSA surveillance power against Americans.
It’s this bold stand against the military’s violation of the constitutional rights of millions of Americans that makes Senator Sanders the most exciting of the likely presidential candidates of the 2016 election.